Seamless commerce strategies a key to success for retailers, says report


The emergence of seamless retail is the new benchmark for success in the Asia Pacific retail sector, according to a new report from KPMG Asia Pacific and GS1 published on Wednesday.

The report, titled "Navigating the Future of Seamless Commerce in Asia Pacific: How Retailers are Driving Customer Experience, From Technology to Sustainability", explores how businesses and consumers are adapting to this changing landscape.

The report looks at how businesses and consumers in Asia Pacific are adopting these seamless commerce strategies across different markets and geographies.

Anson Bailey, KPMG Asia Pacific's head of Consumer and Retail, explained that the emergence of seamless retail, with digital transformation driving remarkable advancements in the sector, has placed the customer squarely at the centre of attention, ushering in a new era.

Noting that it was once a differentiator, he said that seamless retail – defined as a brand's ability to recognise and integrate the customer journey across multiple platforms and services – is now a baseline expectation in the majority of the markets surveyed, making it the new benchmark for tomorrow's sellers. 

The expectation is that social media, delivery innovations, apps, websites, automated messaging, and other digital interactions seamlessly integrate with traditional brick-and-mortar stores, he said. 

"Putting customers first by implementing seamless, connected capabilities throughout the organisation is no longer just a competitive advantage; it is a requirement for those who want to lead the market," he added. 

The report aims to help the industry identify opportunities and spur innovation in order to create more successful customer experiences and journey maps, he said. 

Seamless commerce strategies a key to success for retailers, says report

The study, which surveyed around 7,000 respondents across 14 Asia Pacific markets, identifies six key trends reshaping the retail industry:

  1. Diverse e-commerce landscape: With no dominant platform in the region, competition is fierce. Consumers prioritise product variety and reliable delivery when choosing platforms.
  2. Gen Z driving social commerce: Platforms like TikTok are influencing purchasing behaviours, forcing brands to reconsider their supply chain strategies.
  3. AI adoption in retail: While AI is primarily used to enhance product recommendations, consumers have expressed concerns about privacy and reduced human interaction.
  4. Rise of digital payments: Digital wallets are gaining popularity in Southeast Asia, while developed markets still prefer traditional payment methods. China leads with Alipay dominating the market.
  5. Data-driven loyalty programmes: Retailers are increasingly recognising the value of loyalty programmes for data collection to support direct-to-consumer strategies.
  6. Sustainability as a core value: Brands are expected to integrate sustainability into their business models without adding eco-premiums, driven by consumer demand, particularly from younger generations.

Chortip Varutbangkul

Chortip Varutbangkul, KPMG Thailand partner and head of Consumer and Retail, stated that retail was experiencing a third wave of digital disruption, which is characterised by the rise of seamless commerce.

"Previously, online and brick-and-mortar stores operated largely independently, like silos. However, with the rise of omnichannel strategies that incorporate data analytics and artificial intelligence, retailers are now able to create synergies across these various channels. With seamless commerce, we are now entering a new phase of retail evolution, one in which the customer journey is central," she noted. 

The report also highlights the growing importance of supply chain transparency, especially for millennials and Gen Z consumers. These demographics expect brands to not only articulate a commitment to sustainability but to actually deliver on their promises.

While the Asia Pacific retail economy shows signs of recovery from the pandemic, rising costs are impacting consumer spending. As a result, retailers need to adapt their strategies to win market share in this evolving environment. Mastering seamless retail and prioritising sustainability would be crucial for success, she said.

"As the industry enters the mid-2020s, there is a clear demand for supply chain transparency, driven by environmental concerns that are becoming more important to millennials and Generation Z consumers. For them, authenticity and action speak louder than words; they expect the brands they support to not only express a commitment to sustainability, but also to deliver on the customer promise," according to the report.  

The study includes insights from senior executives of leading retailers and e-commerce marketplaces.